The army on Thursday once again clarified that it had nothing to do with politics and urged everyone not to speculate further as the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan locked horns with the joint opposition, which is seeking his ouster through a vote of no confidence.
“I have said it earlier that the army has nothing to do with politics. It is better for all of us to avoid unnecessary speculation on this matter,” Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Babar Iftikhar told a news conference while responding to a question.
The news conference was convened to brief the media about an unarmed "high-speed flying object" that was fired from India's Sirsa area into Pakistan that landed in Punjab's Mian Chunnu on Wednesday.
But when he was asked to comment on the current political situation against the backdrop of a vote of no confidence against the prime minister in the context of a possible role of the army, the chief military spokesperson referred to his earlier statement wherein he stated that the army had nothing to do with politics.
He was then specifically asked that despite his earlier categorical statement there was no let-up in the allegations that the army was involved in politics.
To this he replied: “Whatever someone is saying, if anyone has doubts that something is being done on our part then whoever is giving such statements should be asked to substantiate their claims. No one has given any evidence (about the involvement of the army in politics) yet.”
His statement comes a few hours after Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain painted the top opposition leadership as anti-army and linked their no-confidence motion to their long-standing unfulfilled desire to have political control over the institution.
“Under the constitutional scheme,” the government’s spokesperson while replying to a question said, “The army always stands by the sitting government.”
The army has to obey the Constitution, he added.
Fawad’s news conference was loaded with video clips and news stories that, apparently, conveyed that the opposition leadership had issued anti-army statements in the past and their attacks continued till the recent past.
The alleged role of the army in politics has come under increased scrutiny against the backdrop of the opposition's move to seek the ouster of Prime Minister Imran through a vote of no confidence.
Political observers believe that Khan is facing a strongest challenge to his almost 4 year rule since this time unlike the past the powers that be are staying “neutral.”
Nevertheless, the prime minister is adamant that the no confidence motion will be defeated and warned that he would make the opposition pay for their last bid to oust him.
During the news conference, the DG ISPR revealed that an unarmed "high-speed flying object" was fired from India's Sirsa area into Pakistan that landed in Punjab province's Mian Chunnu on Wednesday. It was initially thought it might be a plane crash.
Giving details, the DG ISPR said: “On 9 Mar 2022 at 6:43 PM a high-speed flying object was picked up inside Indian Territory by Air Defence Operations Center of PAF. From its initial course, the object suddenly maneuvered towards Pakistani Territory and violated Pak Air Space ultimately falling near Mian Channu at 6:50 PM also damaging some civilian property.”
“Thankfully, no loss or injury to human life was caused,” he added.
He said PAF continuously monitored the complete flight path of the flying object from its point of origin Sirsa in India till its point of impact near Mian Channu and initiated requisite tactical actions in accordance with SOPs.
“It is important to highlight that flight path of this object endangered many International and domestic passenger flights both in Indian and Pakistani airspace as well as human life and property on ground,” Major General Babar said.
“Whatever caused this incident to happen, it is for the Indians to explain. It nevertheless shows their disregard for aviation safety and reflects very poorly on their technological prowess and procedural efficiency. The incident could have resulted in a major aviation disaster as well as civilian casualties on ground,” he said.
Asked for more details about the object, he said "we are not claiming anything right now". "As a responsible nation, we will wait for India to respond. We have given details of whatever we know right now. But it is for the Indians to explain what happened in Mian Channu."
He said Pakistan strongly protested this flagrant violation and cautioned against recurrence of any such incident in future.
Air Vice Marshall Tariq Zia told journalists that at the time this projectile was picked up, there were two airway routes active and several commercial airlines in the area. "If you look at the speed and height of the projectile, it was 40,000 feet high, and the airlines were between 35,000 to 42,000 feet. This could have been very detrimental to the safety of passengers."
Air Vice Marshall Tariq Zia, on the occasion, said that the object travelled 124 kilometers in Pakistan and remained in Pakistani airspace for three minutes.
Read more: Constitution mandates army to stand by govt: Fawad
He said that it was a supersonic missile but further investigation in this regard is underway.
Answering a question regarding the recent terrorist activities in the country, Maj Gen Iftikhar said that there are a few terrorist outfits in Afghanistan and sometimes might be needed to control them.
"Those who are behind these incidents we reach them within days and eliminate them… so far we have killed over terrorists within a few weeks," he added.
Meanwhile, the Charge d’Affaires of India in Islamabad was summoned to the Foreign Office and conveyed Pakistan’s strong protest over the unprovoked violation of its airspace by an Indian origin ‘super-sonic flying object’.
The Indian diplomat was conveyed that the imprudent launch of the flying object not only caused damage to civilian property but also put at risk human lives on ground. Besides, the flight path of the flying object endangered several domestic/international flights within Pakistani airspace and could have resulted in a serious aviation accident as well as civilian casualties.
Also read: Do not drag the military into politics: DG ISPR
The Indian diplomat was told to convey to the government of India Pakistan’s strong condemnation of this blatant violation of Pakistani airspace in contravention of the established international norms and Aviation safety protocols. Such irresponsible incidents were also reflective of India’s disregard for Air safety and callousness towards regional peace and stability.
Pakistan calls for a thorough and transparent investigation of the incident, the outcome of which must be shared with Pakistan. Moreover, the Government of India is cautioned to be mindful of the unpleasant consequences of such negligence and take effective measures to avoid the recurrence off such violations in future.